Digitalisation signals "fourth industrial revolution" at ports

PEMA AGM Artificial intelligence, data management and cyber-physical systems were discussed at Port Equipment Manufacturers Association's AGM

The digitalisation of ports and terminal operations offers ways to realise a "fourth industrial revolution", Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA) AGM delegates have been told.

The revolution would bring with it safety, operational, and environmental benefits, said PEMA president Ottonel Popesco at the conference, which included presentations on artificial intelligence, data management, cyber-physical systems, and interoperability between layers of IoT platforms.

Mr Popesco said: "With the necessary ambition among PEMA members, everybody can be best in class in improving safety, driving efficiency, and reducing environmental impact."

José Llorca, chairman of Puertos del Estado, also stressed the importance of digitalisation in the ports sector. He said it was "crucial to the quality and efficiency of services, and to align [the sector] with the industrial revolution 4.0".

Broader challenges

Keynote speakers Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid, secretary general of ports body FEPORT and Capt. Richard Brough OBE, technical advisor at ICHCA International, highlighted the broader challenges facing the ports and terminals sector.

Macro challenges discussed included regionalisation of trade flows, labour market disruption, regulatory changes, common standards for data analytics, state aid and private investment, the emergence of new business models, competitive collaboration, and sustainability.

Speakers and delegates cautioned, however, that inertia in the ports and terminals sector threatened to stymie its development.

Progress updates were provided on PEMA's industry initiatives and outreach activities. For example, PEMA's 2018 Student Challenge will challenge entrants to develop a comprehensive business plan to reduce emissions and increase productivity at the environmentally-friendly port of the future.

PEMA will also launch a new website and publish several papers on collision-prevention, developments in crane cabin-design, quay crane-safety, brown-field-automation, mooring technologies and ASC-performance.

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